Say hello to this award winning Blue Ribbon Beer Bread. The recipe features the pilsner Wonderstuff, from Bauhaus Brew Labs in Minneapolis, along with cheddar cheese, rosemary, and honey. A thick slice of this bread solo or with a swipe of butter is pure bliss. It’s tender but hearty, and has a beautiful golden brown exterior.
The recipe comes from Cortney Carlson who won “best beer bread” with it at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair.
This was her first blue ribbon win ever! In fact, she had only competed one other time, in 2019 for a special sugar cookie competition. Cortney shared, “Nothing came of the submission, but it ignited my interest in competing.”
Her recipe is easy to follow and replicate. It also great starting point for variations. After tasting and loving Cortney’s Blue Ribbon Beer Bread, we tried a cheddar, chive, and jalapeño version. It was really good also.
We caught up with Cortney for a Q&A recently. Read on to learn about her backstory.
BRG: What can you tell us about your Blue Ribbon Beer Bread recipe and why you chose it?
Cortney: While you’d think most people just KNOW they are submitting their (insert favorite recipe here… sugar cookies, sourdough, etc.), I actually stumbled across mine. When the categories for baking categories were released, I scanned the list for something to jump out at me. I like to try new recipes, new areas of baking, new techniques… so I didn’t go into this with a plan or recipe.
Immediately beer bread jumped out at me. My experience with bread was virtually nonexistent, but all the breweries around town, especially coming from Northeast Minneapolis? Not so much a mystery to me (hehehe).
Knowing little about bread, I looked at dozens of different recipes. I looked for types of beer bread, what types of things people added to them, and then just dove in. I liked the idea of adding an herb…I tried different cheeses, different styles of beers, and went back to the drawing board the more I tried things (that’s a MN nice way of saying the first attempts were gross). Once I started researching the right things, things started clicking and here we are. I landed on the attached final recipe.
BRG: What do you think your secret to winning was?
Cortney: The only thing larger than the amount of foods on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair is the Minnesota pride that you can feel in the air the entire twelve days of the fair. My recipe included ingredients made or headquartered in Minnesota. From local beer, honey, and cheese, to Pillsbury flour and rosemary grown at home… every part of that bread was a nod to people (myself) who say “ope” several times a day.
BRG: What is the worst disaster you’ve had in the kitchen and how did you deal with it?
Cortney: I’ve experienced the most average disasters – burning things, undercooking things, messing up a recipe, missing key ingredients, etc. The thing I’ve learned about kitchen disasters is that while it’s so disappointing and frustrating that day, the greatest lessons I’ve learned in the kitchen have come from the time I did it wrong.
BRG: What advice would you give young people wanting to cook/bake more?
Cortney: Learn your staple dinners/desserts/contributions to potlucks, but don’t stay there. Try new areas of cooking. You like pie but have never made one? Try it. And know that you may not knock it out of the park the first try, but the more you try the more you will learn and can apply to the next recipe.
Great advice Cortney! Now everyone, get ready, set, and bake this bread!
Blue Ribbon Beer Bread
aka ‘Ope’ Beer Bread (Minnesota Honey Beer Bread)
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ cup barrel-aged raw honey (or your favorite)
¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
12 ounces “Wonderstuff” Pilsner (Bauhaus Brew Labs, Minneapolis)
¼ cup salted butter
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix together the bread flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Mix cheese and rosemary into the flour mixture. Slowly pour the honey and beer into the mixture and stir, until combined. Melt half of the butter, and pour it into the bottom of a 9×5 inch bread pan. Grease the pan by brushing the butter up the sides of the pan. Pour in the bread batter and spread to create an even layer. Melt remaining butter and brush onto the top of the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Allow the bread to rest before cutting. Once cool, or at least barely warm, enjoy!